There are so many publishing companies you can choose to use. When you write a book, the most difficult decision you will have to make is your best book publishing option.
You can choose between traditional publishing, self-publishing, or vanity and assisted publishing services.
For first time authors, it can be a daunting process. There is such a wide range of publishing options available.
So what are the best publishing companies, and what are your choices? What are the most reputable companies? Which ones can you trust?
How do you select the best publishing companies?
A recommendation is often the best way to judge.
I can vouch for many of the following self-publishing companies.
I have used their services myself for many years.
For others, I have had positive feedback from fellow Indie authors who publish many books a year.
All of them provide free or almost free self-publishing services of the highest standard.
For publishing services I have not used, I will give you the opinion from The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).
Retailers offering self-publishing platforms
The most popular and best self-publishing companies and service providers are online book retailers.
These well-known companies provide easy, free ebook publishing. Some also offer low-cost print on demand paperback publishing.
They are names you trust. But because they are big companies, there is very little technical support available.
For most self-publishing authors, they offer a safe, streamlined, and straightforward publishing process.
These companies also offer a high royalty percentage of between 60-70%.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Recommended
Amazon KDP is by far the largest and most popular self-publishing company in the world. It is also the biggest seller of ebooks and books by a considerable margin.
If you are publishing for the first time, KDP is the best way to make your book available for sale online. You can publish poetry, novels, non-fiction, or even a short story.
There is no doubt that Amazon sells a lot of books and ebooks. So you should have your book on Amazon.
You can choose from two options when you use KDP to publish ebooks. When you upload your book, you can select standard KDP or KDP Select.
You can read more about these two choices in our article; The Pros And Cons Of Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity.
It is quick and easy to publish Kindle ebooks. The royalty rate is attractive at 70% for ebooks priced above $2.99.
For many years, Amazon used CreateSpace for print on demand paperback publishing. But, Amazon KDP has now taken over Createspace, which closed down.
If you plan to sell books in paperback with Amazon, you need to understand a bit about book formatting.
You need to have basic technical skills. But it is not difficult to publish a paperback using the Amazon KDP print-on-demand service.
Apple iBooks Recommended
Apple Books is a clear number two in the ebook market. Again, you will be publishing with a very big company. There is very little personal help available.
If you follow the help pages and FAQs, you should have no difficulty in publishing your ebook. You can then make your book available to Apple users. Apple’s royalty rate is 70% of your list price.
You can publish direct with Apple iBooks, or you can use an aggregator. (See more about aggregators below.)
Barnes & Noble Press Recommended
Nook Press is now B&N Press, but it still offers an easy way to self-publish.
You should note that most of its book market is in the United States. Amazon and Apple are both more global.
Its royalty rate is a little lower than Amazon and Apple at 65% for ebooks priced above $2.99.
Rakuten Kobo Recommended
Most authors know this company as Kobo Books. It is an online publisher and retailer that also sells reading devices to its customers.
It has a small share of the global market, but it can generate ebook sales for independent authors. Kobo’s royalty rate is 70% on ebooks above $2.99.
Like Apple, there is the choice to self-publish direct with Kobo, or you can use an aggregator.
Best Self-Publishing Aggregators
An aggregator is a self-publishing service. You can use one to sell your ebooks on many online ebook retailers.
It is a simple process to self-publish your ebook with an aggregator. You can choose from a large selection of retailers, libraries, and subscription services. Some even let you have your book priced for free.
Your royalty rate will be a little lower than if you publish direct with retailers. It is usually 60% on books above $2.99.
But the ease of publishing once to set up distribution to a lot of ebook retailers is worth the small reduction.
Smashwords has been in the ebook business for a long time. It is well-known as one of the best self-publishing companies for Indie authors. Smashwords is a respected service provider and has excellent customer support.
You can make your ebook available on a long list of ebook retailers and lending libraries.
Many authors chose to publish in ebook format on Amazon. But then they use Smashwords to publish and distribute their ebooks to Apple, B&N, Kobo, and many others.
Draft2Digital (D2D) offers a very similar service to Smashwords. Again, its customer service is outstanding.
I must admit that I prefer D2D for one reason.
If you have a lot of titles, D2D has an automatic end matter function. When you publish a new title or update an existing one, D2D updates all you back-matter. Additions to your other titles will update automatically.
It is a great facility to have if you publish fiction books in a series.
Self-Publishing Service Providers
Blurb Recommended by ALLi
Blurb specializes in producing books in many different formats.
But for authors, it offers quality trade books with a choice of sizes and cover types. You can also produce ebooks.
It has a bookstore and offers distribution channels, including Apple iBooks, Amazon, for books and ebooks as well as Ingram distribution.
The biggest plus for Blurb is that you can publish and produce high-quality books, which you can then sell.
Lulu was one of the first self-publishing companies. It is a distributor of ebooks and print books.
It has its own online bookstore. But you can also distribute to other retailers such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
With Lulu, you can self-publish in hardcover and paperback for print books.
Its ebook publishing and distribution services are free. But, it also offers paid support services such as editing and cover design.
Bookbaby Rated Excellent by ALLi
BookBaby is a full-service book publisher.
Most of the services, while classed as self-publishing, are, in fact, pay to use.
You might not be sure you can do everything. There is a lot you need to do with free self-publishing. If this is the case, Bookbaby’s services could be very helpful for you.
IngramSpark Rated Excellent by ALLi
IngramSpark offers similar paid services to BookBaby.
It is a full-service publisher. It specializes in the worldwide distribution of print books.
This company might be a choice for an author who prefers to outsource the publishing process.
Taking the traditional route
For many authors, their dream is to sign a book deal with one of the major book publishing houses.
Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Publishing Group, Macmillan, and HarperCollins are some of the big names. It might give you a chance to get on the bestseller lists.
It is not an easy road to get published by one of the big traditional publishers.
But they are all well-regarded companies, and they are all highly recommended.
When you take the trade publishing route, you will need to find a literary agent who is willing to represent you.
It can be a long and frustrating process. There are rejections and waiting for replies and complying with complicated submission guidelines.
But, you could get lucky and manage to secure an agent. Then it will be up to your agent to offer your book proposal to potential publishers.
If you are offered a publishing contract, it will then take up to a year before your book is published. In some cases, you may be offered an advance. But this is not as generous as it was in years gone by.
The big benefits, of course, are that your publisher will meet all the costs. It will include edit, design, and production costs. You will also be assured of being paid your due royalties on time and in full.
Assisted Self-Publishing Services
You can find many small companies online that offer assisted self-publishing services.
It would be fair to say that these companies range from the good to the bad to the ugly.
I have referred to the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) a few times already in this article.
ALLi maintains an extensive watchdog list of the best and worst publishers and publishing services with advisory notes. I would suggest that you bookmark this link for future reference.
You can see a small selection in the image below of the ratings for a handful of companies and service providers.
If you are thinking about using any small online business to help you publish your book, check this list first.
If a company name is in red with an advisory notice, be careful. You should take note that there have been serious problems reported. If a company is marked in yellow, you should be cautious.
Look for a company marked in green or blue and with an excellent rating. You can then be reasonably sure that you will receive good service from a vetted company.
As you can see from the image above, many publishing companies in red are not recommended.
Small Press Publishers
There are some fantastic, hard-working small press publishers. But some are not so good.
Like all new small businesses, many fail within the first two or three years. This can cause enormous problems for authors. Very often, it means that you have no way to get your book rights back.
When you sign a contract with a small press publisher, you will be signing over your book rights. It will be up to the book publisher to pay your royalties. So you need to be very confident that the publisher can fulfill its part of your contract.
If you are considering signing with a small press, do your research first and check its ALLi rating. Look for companies that have been around for a long while and have a solid track record of success.
In my case, I am signed with a small press publisher to publish my audiobooks. I can say that I am completely satisfied.
However, I hear of many cases where authors have experienced a lot of difficulties.
I would recommend that you proceed with caution.
Related reading: Publishers To Avoid And Author Scams
Vanity Press Publishers Avoid
The first point to make here is that vanity publishing is definitely not self-publishing.
Vanity publishers charge you a lot of money to produce your book.
In other words, they are selling your book to you, the author, and not to readers.
There have been many complaints and court cases over the years involving vanity press publishers.
If you receive an unrequested offer to publish your book, beware.
Here are some well-known vanity publishers that you should avoid.
AuthorHouse Not Recommended
AuthorSoltions, also called AuthorHouse, operates under many other business names.
Beware of the following company names that AuthorHouse also uses.
Archway Publishing, Author Learning Center, AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, AuthorHive, Balboa Press, Balboa Press UK, Booktango, GABAL Global Editions, iUniverse, LifeRich Publishing, Palibrio, Partridge Publishing, Partridge Africa, Partridge India, Partridge Singapore, Trafford Publishing, WestBow Press, Wordclay and Xlibris.
You should take extreme caution if you are considering publishing with any of these companies.
Strategic Book Publishing SBPRA Not Recommended
This company is the subject of multiple alerts.
I receive spam emails almost every week from SBPRA, even though I have never subscribed to its mailing list.
I have tried unsubscribing, but without success. As you can see from the alert above, it currently owes $125,000 to authors.
So it is a book publishing company that you should avoid at all costs.
Tate Publishing Not Recommended
The warning above is clear. This is a problem publisher. There are many complaints and also criminal proceedings.
Summary. What are your safest choices?
The best and recommended choices
Without a doubt, the safest way to get your books published is to self-publish. Use any of the major online book retailers that offer self-publishing platforms or use an ebook aggregator.
If you only want to publish ebooks, then Amazon KDP plus your choice of an aggregator is all you need.
By self-publishing in this way, you are in full control, and you will be paid the highest royalty rate.
The other safe way is to try to get published by a traditional publishing house.
The other choices that come with a caution
Outside of the first three options, the publishing industry becomes more difficult to judge.
Take care if you wish to sign with a small press publisher or use an assisted-self-publishing service. Do your research and check before you commit yourself.
Be careful also if you receive any unsolicited offer to publish your book. Whenever you think something is too good to be true, it almost always is.
Lastly, avoid vanity publishing.
Or at least know what you are getting yourself into and how much it will cost you in the end. It is usually a lot of money with no guarantee at all of any book sales.